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Daniel Anderson, Author

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Sabrina Cheung

Welcome to my portfolio!


Sound studies have come a long way since this kitty took a spin on a record player.
Our goal for the class was to find out how to use sound technology
to study literature. Let me tell you about myself and my findings.

I'm going to be honest- I enrolled in this class because I had no idea what I was most interested in, and I still have only a vague idea. I'm kind of really all over the place. Literature is one of my interests, so I thought I'd check ENG 366H. Then, during the three months in the course, I realized that the exploring the digital humanities helped me understand an entirely different aspect of literature that I didn't even know existed. To me, novelty is a thrilling thing. Even though it was difficult at first to think in terms of sound (and it still is), I found a few things particularly interesting:

We do not use sound often enough with literature, although it is helpful in our understanding.

Never before in a literature class have I been able to analyze sound in such depth. I remember talking about sound imagery in poetry, but there is limited language to describe sound. When you put things in a video or audio essay format, however, the observer can actually see or hear what you mean. This is extremely helpful. Furthermore, technology can make things efficient. Instead of using up sentences of an essay to describe the crackling of a log fire, you could play a five second clip. 
There are some limitations, however, to how much we can convey over a video. Traditional essays are still important; there are some ideas that may be more effective in paragraph form. I get the sense that video technology works very well to enhance our understanding of literature, but should not completely replace a traditional essay. Different formats are useful in different settings. 
Thinking about the future, it would be beneficial to consider people with disabilities. For example, an audio essay embedded on a website would be of little use to someone who cannot hear. Perhaps there could be a script. Moving even further, multimedia projects could cater to those with special needs and also be incredibly interesting. I'm thinking of something with the magnitude of a storybook garden but on the internet, so it is easily accessible. There could be sounds and visuals that you could click around with or maybe pan around to look at, like a video game. There really are unlimited possibilities. 

Sound is heavily linked to emotion and memory.

There is a wide range of different emotions, including basic ones such as love, joy, surprise, anger, sadness, and fear, to more complex or magnified ones, such as tenderness, ecstasy or anguish. One of the ideas that we came up with as a class was to maybe make a larger sound list to further explore the relationship between emotion and sound. We could have sorted a collection of sounds into how they made us feel. However, there is the issue of ambiguity when memory comes into play. The crackling log fire I described before could make you nostalgic, but if you're Hansel or Gretel, you could be transported back in the time you were trapped in the witch's hut in the forest about to be roasted over a spitfire, which is the near-opposite of nostalgia and probably really traumatizing. I did happen to use the sound of a crackling fire in my e-poems, so judge that as you may!

You really shouldn't be scared of technology because it can be awesome.

It is too easy to shut out a new way of learning because you're unfamiliar with it or the thought of being bad at something scares you. I've worked with Photoshop and Illustrator for leisure, graphic design, and my job at a mapping center. I can tell you that it is a great feeling when you know little nuances such as keyboard shortcuts, what tools are most suited to the task, and the capabilities of your software. When we had to download Audacity and Camtasia, I initially dreaded having to learn everything. However, I got into a different mindset. Rather than thinking, "this is too hard," I tried to think, "this may be difficult, but I can rise to the challenge." While I definitely did not feel like diving in, I realized that it was rewarding to familiarize myself with something new. Putting projects together and trying to figure out how to mimic the techniques of the geniuses who make movie trailers or successful podcasts became a good kind of challenge.

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